Banning Shark Fin is a Step Towards a New China

 | Fri 13 Dec 2013 09:11 ICT

CityNews – In a move that has many sighing with relief, China has put its foot down on shark fin soups at all official dinners, setting a better example for the public. This news comes strategically after a string of corruption scandals, which makes it seem that the Chinese government is looking to restore lost trust from the people.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) announced their ban on dishes containing shark fin, as well as other controversial meals containing rare wild animals, which has long been an issue in the country. Shark fin soup is a common dish at formal occasions such as weddings, banquets, or official events for those in power. Even though the fins themselves are tasteless, cartilaginous, and rubbery, and they have no medicinal value whatsoever, the demand for it in Chinese communities is still on the rise.

Shark finning, which is the practice of sawing off the fin of a live shark before throwing it back into the ocean to bleed to death, is the leading cause of sharks’ declining populations worldwide, and also a vehement issue for those concerned with the welfare of these sentient beings, as well as the ocean’s increasingly-fragile ecosystem.

Edible bird’s nest is one of the disallowed products, which can cost up to $2,500 per kilogram in Asia, and is most commonly used for bird’s nest soup. The item has been eaten in China for over 400 years, and is traditionally believed to heighten sex drive, alleviate asthma, “improve focus”, and generally strengthen the immune system (none of which is medically proven).

Although China passed a ban on shark fin imports in 2012, this latest move by the government has shown a hopeful shift in thinking for the country’s leaders. In recent times, the public has been growing increasingly unsettled with the growing spending habits of the government, which has urged authorities to quell their dissatisfaction with restrictions on extravagance.

From now on, as well as expensive delicacies containging rare wild animals being banned, cigarettes and upmarket alcoholic drinks will also be forbidden at state functions. Lower level officials have also been reined in, and are now prohibited from staying in luxury suites on their business-related travels.

Since coming into power in March 2013, President Xi Jinping has been on a tirade of quelling corruption in the elite Communist Party of China, and has detained a number of allegedly corrupt government officials and executives in well-known companies in the last few months. In September, a top Communist Party politician was jailed for life for corruption, with another former member of the Politburo (a group of members who oversee the CPC) also being jailed for life, for bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power.

Many Chinese citizens see these changes as an indicator of a better future for China.